The year before our first kid was born, my wife and I went on vacation in Budapest. It was a beautiful city, and the food was wonderful – I particularly loved the chicken paprikash that they seemed to server everywhere. When I got home, I started looking for recipes to reproduce it. This is the closest I’ve been able to come.
The most important thing for this recipe is the paprika. Get good hungarian paprika. American paprika is pretty much just powdered red food coloring. Hungarian paprika is a richly flavorful spice which is the heart of this dish.
- 3 tablespoons Sweet hungarian paprika
- 3 tablespoons Hot hungarian paprika.
- 2-3 pounds of chicken, bone in, skin on. (You can use either a good sized whole chicken,
or just chicken legs; dark meat will come out the best.)
- 3 large onions, quartered and then sliced thin.
- Several cloves of garlic, finely minced.
- 3 bay leaves.
- 2-3 cups chicken stock.
- 1 cup creme fraiche. (Sour cream will work if you can’t get the fraiche, but creme fraiche is
- Cooked egg noodles or spaetzle tossed with butter.
- Salt and pepper
- Cut the chicken into parts. If you’re using a whole chicken, separate the legs, thighs, wings,
and cut the breasts each in half. If you’re using just legs, separate the drumsticks from the thighs.
- On medium high heat, brown the chicken well. Start with the fattiest pieces in a dry pan; the rendered fat is what you’ll use to cook everything else. Drain the fat if there’s too much, but make sure
to keep enough to be able to saute the onions.
- When the chicken is done, dump the leftover fat into a large stockpot on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, and just barely starting to turn golden.
- Add the paprika, bay leaves, and some salt and pepper and stir around.
- Add the chicken stock. Taste it for salt and pepper. At this point, it should taste a little
too salty, because the chicken is unsalted, and it’s going to absorb some of the
salt. Also add more paprika if it doesn’t taste strong enough.
- Put the chicken back in. If the stock doesn’t cover the chicken, add more. (And then add more
paprika to make up for the dilution.)
- When the stock comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and let it simmer for at least an hour until the chicken is cooked through and tender enough to fall off the bone.
- When it’s all cooked through, taste again for salt and pepper, and remove the bay leaves.
- Right before serving, add the creme fraiche on low heat, and stir it through the sauce.
- Serve over the egg noodles or spaetzle. (If you have a good recipe for spaetzle, please let me
know; I haven’t been able to make any that comes out like the real hungarian stuff.)